Shares in Echo Energy (LSE:ECHO) dived 12pc this morning after the Latin America-focused business announced that Fiona MacAulay will be stepping down as its chief executive. MacAulay, who was appointed chief executive in June 2017, will move to a non-executive director role at the business from the end of this year.
In her place, the company has appointed its chief financial officer Martin Hull as managing director with immediate effect. Eales will be supported in the role by MacAulay until the end of March next year as well as non-executive chairman James Parson.
To reflect the change in MacAulay’s role, 22 million of her options to subscribe for Echo shares have been cancelled. However, she retains a 0.05pc stake in the firm as well as four million options to subscribed for new shares at 16.12p each. These vest in July 2020 and are exercisable any time after that until July 2022.
On the move, Parsons said: ‘It has been a huge pleasure to work with Fiona in these early stages of Echo’s development and I would like to thank her for her significant contribution in securing our Argentinian portfolio, drilling four wells, completing various workovers and in strengthening and deepening the executive team. At this stage in her career Fiona wishes to develop a non-executive portfolio and we look forward to having the benefit of her continuing input as a fellow director of the company.
‘I am very pleased that Martin will be taking the reins, bringing his extensive international transaction experience as we continue to drive transformational growth and build an even stronger platform for value creation for our shareholders in the future.’
Elsewhere in an update today, Echo said the mobilisation of equipment to acquire 1,200km2 of 3D seismic at its Tapi Aike exploration acreage in Argentina is due to commence imminently. A Competent Person’s Report has identified 41 leads over three independent plays at the site in the foothills of the Andes mountains, with gross prospective resources of up to 4.2 trillion cubic feet of gas at the best estimate. The most significant two leads each potentially contain 3.8 trillion cubic feet and 2.6 trillion cubic feet of gross gas in place, with total high case potential of over 20 trillion cubic feet of gross gas in place.
A seismic programme at the site is expected to begin once all the equipment has arrived on site and parameter testing is completed in early 2019. It will last around four months. Echo intends to define an initial four well exploration drilling programme, with each well estimated to cost between $2m and $5m net to Echo.
Elsewhere, the business said it expects to begin the stimulation of its EMS-1001 well, which it drilled in June on its Fraccion C licence in Argentina, in around four weeks. This follows minor delays in releasing the equipment from its current third-party contract. The company will update the market once the equipment is on site and stimulation operations are ready to begin.